Jims Galley

Jims Galley

Monday, November 8, 2010

What a TOMATO!!

Canned Tomatoes are probably the most used canned product in our JBO Kitchen. Weather it’s Salsa, Chicago Deep Dish, Neapolitan Pie, Clam Linguine, or even Lasagna, old JB is reaching for the tomatoes cans quite often.

The most famous of all the canned tomatoes and reportably the best is the San Marzano DOP certified canned tomatoes from Italy. I am not going to get into the history and how the product became certified, etc. It is a very interesting story that is all over the Internet, here is a good reference.

Pretty much everything you would ever want to know about the San Marzano is there.

I have talked to a lot of chefs and a lot of cooks on the internet and there always seems to be a bit of controversy about weather or not the San Marzano is the better product, and is it worth the high cost, like over $6 bucks a can at some retailers.

Here is my official vote, and the vote is—Yes, and -maybe not.

D.O.P. (Protected Designation of Origin) certified San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the Agro Sarnese Nocerino region of Italy, renowned for its especially fruitful soil as a result of its proximity to Mount Vesuvius.
The D.O.P. Seal Certifies not only that a tomato product is made from authentic San Marzano tomatoes but also that the product is produced with the proper method to ensure superior quality.

For me the cost of $6 bucks a can is just a little out of line for most cooking. So, I did not feel comfortable based on some reports I have gotten about buying them cheaper on the internet, and the cost of shipping is a bit high. Basically I would buy one or two cans whenever I would make a Neapolitan pizza, and that would be about it.

HOLD THE TRAIN!! The big news for me last week was in WalMart, where I found Cento San Marzano DOP certified tomatoes for like $3.50! This sort of changes things, I bought six cans off the bat and will go back this week and probably buy out the rest if I can. I made whole-wheat lasagna yesterday using the Cento SM and with out a doubt was the best lasagna I ever made. So now, yes, I will use SM for most of my sauces and pies. The L Cheapo canned products will be used for Chile.

Here is the deal with the San Marzano DOP certified tomatoes, they are velvety smooth, fruity and sweet. There really is no acid taste at all and no need to add sugar to your sauce using these tomatoes. There is also no watery juice inside, more like a sauce. The tomatoes are plump red and can be eaten right out of the can. They do make the best sauce and require very little seasoning, the color of these tomatoes are beautiful.

So, if your cooking a dish that requires a nice sauce, than yes the SM is the way to go and worth it, but at $6 bucks a can, it is a rare treat. For $3 bucks or so, keep 10 cans on hand at all times, and some cheap o store brand for back up.

The debate about taste, San Marzano wins hands down over any other canned product I have tried. I have yet to try a product that even comes close. The fact that they are certified makes sense based on the history and protecting the name and Italian heritage of the SM product.

Try some! You can order on line, or check you local WalMart. Specialty shops will carry San Marzano and I have bought them at Williams-Sonoma. Farm fresh carries Delello SM, however at a very high price.

My favorite is the Cento so far. Makes the best sauce in the world!!

TIPS: *Always hand crush San Marzano Tomatoes.
* Do not overcook, or you will take the sweetness out.
* For Pizza sauce, do not cook the tomato.

Jim B

 "San Marzano tomatoes have been designated as the only tomatoes that can be used for Vera Pizza Napoletana (True Neapolitan Pizza)."

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